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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  March 13, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT

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and give you to answers to the questions. >> and we will continue our coverage. erin burnett "outfront" starts erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. -- captions by vitac -- polls will close in two states, mississippi and alabama, and find out if the mitt romney can close up the gop nomination or somebody has a sudden death moment. is it the mitt night or not? we will ask the chairman of his campaign, tim pawlenty. let's go "outfront." good evening, everybody, i'm erin burnett and "outfront" we are counting down and it is game time. it is the political game going on tonight. the republican candidate goesing for the deep south and we have big prizes up for grabs, mi mississippi and alabama, and the total delegates at stake tonight
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in those two states is 84. if you are keeping track, more than 8 million votes nationwide have been cast in 26 primaries and caucuses so far. the horse race over the past several days has been truly tightening for the states up for grabs the night, and sit down to the wire. we are less than an hour away from the polls closing and will it be sudden death for one of the four candidates to give this country a little clarity of who is in and who might be out of what is a roller coaster race? can newt gingrich rise again as we call canned we called it the triple lazarus. and a bad night for newt gingrich could mean he is out of the race. >> with rick and me together, we arelying him down and with some help from ron paul, and the country is sort of saying by a majority of them saying not romney. >> well, if rick santorum has a strong finish, he is going to prove that the appeal runs through the south as well as the midwest.
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>> we need the conservative belt right through the south of america to speak loudly that they want a strong conviction conservative candidate. >> and the stakes of course are very, very high for mitt romney tonight. if he looks weak in these southern states, which he has not won with the exception of florida which is different from the deep south, the old story line that he cannot close the deal will be the headline again tomorrow, and today, he is focusing on math and the delegate count. >> if the polls are anywhere near correct we will end up with one-third of the delegates, and if that is the case, well, that inches us closer to the magic number. >> all right. so let's get to john king with the latest exit polling data and john, you have been looking at this and interesting things of the evangelicals and who is out today and who isn't? >> well, gail on, and dead heat in the polling, and three-way
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ties, and who voted and what is on the mind of the people voting and you have the look for clues and we have to be careful, because the polls are open. but can governor romney win the shout? he has the most money and so is he conservative enough? if not, where do they go? so if they have a split, 42% for gingrich and 47% for santorum. and more than half say he is not conservative enough. it does not mean they did not vote for him, but 42% of the people in mississippi describe themselves as very conservative, and that is not surprising in a conservative southern state. and 10% in mississippi describe moderate to liberal, so maybe
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not as conservative as you thought. that is mississippi. move over, and these are open primaries and no party registrati registration. and 38% in alabama, and 31% somewhat, and 31%, moderate to liberal. we may stereotype them, but along the gulf coast, retirees from the gulf coast and elsewhere. and these people are not registered so we asked what are you? 80% in mississippi said they were republican. and now look at the number in alabama, only two-thirds identify themselves as republicans. so that is an interesting difference of neighboring states. 66% of alabamians say that they are republican. >> everybody has enthusiasm gap in the particular primary, but when you seethe independents
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coming out, what does that say? >> well, they do not trust anybody, and they want to call themselves independents, because they don't like the institutions. they don't like the banks or the political parties or us, as you know from covering the financial issues, so people are mad and identify themselves as independents, but they are conservative. 15 years ago there were no state organized parties in the county level in alabama and mississippi. at the state level it was mostly democrats and now republicans everywhere, the county sxhisher in and the congressional races, and governor romney has a lot of the local endorsements. hayes the governor of mississippi and does that help him organizationally where people say he is from massachusetts and he is a mormon and he says cheesy grits. >> yes. and can he get the passion vote versus romney's organization vote? that is two great states to watch it play out tonight.
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>> amazing and fascinating results so far from what john told you from the exit polls, and more information is coming in and of course we will share it with you as we have the polls closing. well, today, mitt romney took a slam at rick santorum for the attack ads. >> well, he is at the desperate end of the campaign and looking for some way to boost the prospects, and frankly misrepresenting the truth is not a good way of doing that. >> why do you think that he is a desperate end of the campaign? >> well, i mean, he is far behind in the delegate count, and he is far behind in the popular vote count, and if you look at the math of how many delegates he would have the win to be the nominee, it is a difficult road for him, and at this stage, he is looking for some way to try to gain ground. >> well, wolf blitzer is here with me now, and interesting, wolf, you got hem to talk about other candidates which he had been loathed to do until you
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talked to him tonight. >> well, a lot of times they like the aides or the supporters to take the high road and they look presidential and going after president obama without necessarily getting into the mud, but i asked him a sensitive question about rick santorum's super pac, the pro rick santorum's super pac plasting h -- blasting him saying that he left a $1 billion of debt when he left the governorship of massachusetts. but that is what happens in politics. >> well, from the analyst you have done -- >> well, it could be desperate end for newt gingrich on the other hand if he does not win one of the two southern states tonight with the campaign presumably in a lot of trouble. santorum will go on, because next tuesday, they are in illinois and advertising to be ready for a huge primary in illinois. >> i was looking at the numbers and as usual mitt romney with the super pac millions of dollars. and he predicted he would win one-third of the delegates tonight. >> he will probably given the
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proportional nature of distributing the delegates. >> is that enough? >> well, way ahead, and he has double of the delegates of santorum, and more than gingrich and ron paul is way, way behind and yet to win any of the primaries or caucuses. so methodically, that will keep mitt romney going, and obviously he would like the win them all, but the drepublicans are following the democratic lead and following with the proposh gnat -- proportional ti. . >> well, they know it is going to happen if you speak to them, because they are very, very confident and looking a ttd n i
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numbers and the money. if you have a billionaire giving you $10 million or whatever, that goes to a super pac, but there are restrictions of how it can be used. it can be was yused in attack ads, but not day to day operations, paying the staff for example, and i don't think that san tomorrow or newt gingrich want to go into personal debt if they don't believe they are going to win. >> well, we will see and follow the money, and sometimes it will get you to answer more times than many people think. thank you, wolf blitzer, who spoke to mitt romney earlier to knig night, and we are 50 minutes away from the closing of the polls. and tim paw llenty is going to join us, and he obviously supports mitt romney, but we will ask him if the gop has a god problem. and the drop in the approval rating for the president an anomaly or worrisome trend?
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tonight. 84 total delegates up for grabs in these states and a lot riding on tonight's results. for rick santorum, it could be an indicator of how viable he is as a national candidate. jim acosta is at santorum's headquarters in lafayette, louisiana. jim, the pressure is on for santorum to prove it is not the heartland of the country where he does well, but the deep south. how confident is the campaign feeling tonight? >> i would say that they are more cautious than confident tonight, erin. the santorum campaign is looking at two bad scenarios that could come into play later on this evening when the votes come in which is romney winning both of the states tonight or gingrich winning both of the states tonight which would be a huge momentum drag for rick santorum, and also deny him the oppounity to gain on mitt romney in the delegate count which is desperately what he needs to do this evening, and that is why earlier this evening when rick santorum was on a conservative talk radio program
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called for newt gingrich to get out of the race. one thing, erin, i am watching is how the evangelical vote plays out for rick santorum. keep in mind, he did better than expected in oklahoma and tennessee where the evangelical vote was a major factor in both of the contests, and that bodes well for him in both mississippi and alabama. >> we will talk to tim pawlenty about how the evangelicals and the conservatives may have cast their votes in a moment. and we go the joe johns at the gingrich headquarters in birmingham, alabama. what is the feeling there and is the gingrich camp making it is make or break? >> well, you know, erin, moving away from the make or break language that we heard a week ago and it is interesting because newt gingrich has said much more recently that as far as he is concernconcerned, if i close, never the race in mississippi and alabama moves on and he has said recently, like today, that he plans to go all of the way to the republican convention. now, the one thing though that i
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also think that you have to say is that newt gingrich has to say, that and he has to say that he is going to keep going, because he has been een warned the supporters not the talk down his own campaign, but the bottom line if he does not do well in the two states the calls will increase for newt gingrich to get out of the race, erin. >> and joe, i'm curious, because we are calling it the triple lazarus, you know, the biblical hat trick for gingrich to rise for the third time, but from what you are e sare seeing in t crowds and the number of people en thooz yas tick fthusiastic f how can he do it? >> well, this is the south and his strength, but there is suggestions that he is regional candidates and the polls in illinois say he is not doing well there at all. there is a memo that the gingrich campaign set out, setting up a scenario where
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gingrich does better in the second half of the primary season than he has done in the first half of the primary season, and they make ta point that we are not even to the halfway point, and it does not occur until louisiana, at the end of march. still though, if you read closely through that memo, they make some claims that they don't support with at lot of facts as to why state by state newt gingrich is going to do better going forward. so, it is a very open question. you don't want to count him out completely simply because he has done ate couple of times before, and nonetheless, it looks very hard, very rough for newt gingrich going forward, if he does not do well tonight. >> we will see how tonight is, and whether there is a major announcement from newt gingrich after tonight, and of course, that is a real possibility depending how it goes. mitt romney h is downplaying the expectations today as well and they have all been doing it and that is what happens with a three-way tie. he expects to walk away with one-third of the delegates, and
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the polls show that the massachusetts governor is polling very well in the south even though he compared campaigning in the south a home and away game. and tim pawlenty is a campaign chairman for mitt romney, and governor, good the talk to you again, and thank you for taking the time tonight, and mitt romney, what is a win in your view for him tonight? >> well, a noteworthy development tonight could be mitt romney winning or doing well in one or both of the states, erin. if you dialed back the discussion a few weeks, people were saying that it would be challenging for him, that he didn't have a chance and going to be very difficult for him, and now it looks like he could be tied or very close to the top or even come out on top, and if that were to happen in one of the states, it would be a breakthrough moment in the campaign and a campaign he has done very well. one other quick thing, the resilience of mitt romney is starting the show through, because when he was way behind
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in florida he came band beat newt gingrich, and when he was behind he came back to beat rick santorum, and you have seen it in michigan and other places. so one other characteristic that you should talk about the resilience and the strength of rick santorum. >> well, he could be cast as the energizer bunny and nobody would deny that, but the problem is the ability to energize the voters. does that surprise you as someone who knows him well and co-chairing the campaign, and are you somewhat disappointed it has take thn long? >> well, a couple of things, it is competitive and nobody has to kor nate you for the nomination, and you have to earn it, and formidable competitors who are battling and not bowing out. but i want to push back on the premise, because you look at the turnout and modern historic high in michigan, and he did well in broad demographic groups in florida and nevada and bigger primaries and more diverse
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states, and he the only candidate tied or consistently beating barack obama in national polls so the idea that he is not doing well or connecting, i don't buy it. and lastly, somebody who is the more entertaining candidate is going top perh p perhaps be mor entertaining, but you need a commander in chief for the position of president of the united states, and not entertainer. >> and you know, i hear the point, but there is a more existential point coming your way, and the exit polls, 55% of the people in alabama, mitt romney is not conservative enough, and 42% of them in mississippi. so it seems that the numbers have shown it and we see it in every state that the truly conservative part of the base does not support mitt romney. >> well, i encourage you, erin, before you make a final judgment of that to look at the the results tonight, because if it turns out that mitt wins one or
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both of the states, your premise is undermined immediately. if mitt romney does well in the southern states tonight, the script is rewritten and that is a breakthrough moment and defies what the question suggested. >> all right. governor pawlenty, it is going to be a breakthrough moment when the polls close in 40 minutes, and it is going to be a very, very important night for the republicans running for the republican nomination. outfront, a stunning number, how much money the romney super pac has spent this year, and which party has a bigger problem with the women voters. [ artis brown ] america is facing some tough challenges right now. two of the most important are energy security and economic growth. north america actually has one of the largest oil reserves in the world. a large part of that is oil sands. this resource has the ability to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. at our kearl project in canada, we'll be able to produce these oil sands
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so, sadly every election season in recent memory has them, the negative campaign ads, but this primary season has been the nastiest of all of the nasties and the super pacs have been on the attack. i have am sampling and i love to do this because every night we have the primaries and the caucuses to see exactly who is being the most negative. take a look at this ad from a so super pac supporting newt gingrich, it is called "winning our future." >> i don't relate to romney. >> i don't know i can trust him.
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>> he does not have the strength to stand up against obama. >> newt gingrich can beat obama. >> i want somebody who can fight for our beliefs. >> we are looking at $5 and $6 gas and romney is not the type to pump his own gas. >> as you can see, negative on mr. romney. and mr. romney as we know, the governor has played plenty of his own negative ads. >> the liberals attack mitt romney, and why? because obama knows he will beat rick santorum, and santorum says he is the principal conservative, but that is not how he voted. >> well, obviously, pretty negative, but this is the fun part, and that things to us this number, $1,948,730, and that is how much the mitt romney's super pac "restore our future" has spent in mississippi and alabama alone on broadcast ads on nbc, and cbs and abc and fox, and so you see the combined candidate
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spending on those ads. when you compare them super pac to super pac, the pro romney super pac has spent two times more than newt gingrich and rick santorum's super pacs combined just in these two states. that is a pretty stunning number. outfront, we have the outfront five, and we are learning more about the soldier who allegedly killed 16 afghan civilians. john king back at the wall, because he has new exit poll information coming in as we are 30 minutes from the closing of the key polls tonight. [ todd ] hello? hello todd. just calling to let you know i'm giving you the silent treatment. so you're calling to tell me you're giving me the silent treatment? ummm, yeah. jen, this is like the eighth time you've called... no, it's fine, my family has free unlimited mobile-to-any-mobile minutes -- i can call all i want. i don't think you understand how the silent treatment works. hello?
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all right. we are counting down to the polls closing in a half hour until they close, and it is going be a very big night for the republican primary season. we have five other stories that we want to focus on right now though, the outfront five. first president obama said publicly today, that he was both heartbroken by the killing of afghan citizens by a u.s. soldier. the early morning rampage left 16 dead including three women and nine children. leon panetta says that the
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unnamed soldier could face the death penalty. and now the exact building has been identified where nuclear-related explosive tests happened in iran. the building is on the parchen military site, and it is provided by a digital satellite company, and iran said they would allow inspectors into the city, but not as of today. and china's trade restrictions are being challenged on rare earth minerals. china contains one-third of the rareerals are used for things like flat screen tvs. >> if they would let the market work on its own, we have no problem with that, but their policies are preventing that from happening, and not using
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what they said they would agree to. producing hybrid car batteries is not going to be inhibited. >> well, many of the mined minerals are found in radioactive mines, work es can be hurt, and one of the surfaces was closed. sure, china may be trying to control the rare earth mineral market, but while president obama and others on the side of the aisle want china to export more of the minerals, it is china's workers taking the hit, and others may not want to. and the nasdaq today closing above 3,0 30,000 by -- 3,000 for the first time in 30 years.
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the fed will keep the interest rates low. and the reason is because banks passed a stress test showing another 20% in housing prices and unemployment at 13%. maybe some pressure on those banks tomorrow though. it has been 222 days since the united states has lost the top credit rating and what are we doing to get it back? the consumer helping with retail sales up in february and the biggest single gain in five months. we are 30 minutes away from closing of the polls ark wnd ve in u exit poll information coming in as we count down to that, and john king has that for us. john, what is the latest? >> erin, the two states and the dead heats sheats, as we look a the evangelical voters went. and we have asked in the state of alabama if the religious beliefs of the candidates matter, and more in 4 of 10 voters say they matter a great deal, and this is in the state
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of alabama. any evidence of discrimination against governor romney? 47% of those who said that the region matters a great deal voted for santorum, and 33% for gingrich, and only 15% for governor romney, so there is some evidence that there some people had issue with the mormon faith. and in mississippi, again the same number, 45% saying it matters a great deal, and governor romney in mississippi, 38%, and romney 30%, so a different finding in two neighboring states of how much religious beliefs matter and who did you vote for. and here is the big question, regardless of who you voted for, who is most likely to defeat obama? in alabama, 46% believed that rick santorum wou mitt romney would, but that does not mean that 46% voted for him, but that 46% believe that he would be stronger. and in mississippi, 52% of the
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people said they believed mitt romney would, but that is not the number who voted for him, but those who answered the exit poll. and on the gender question in alabama, it was 50-50. that is alabama and so how in mississippi? look at the neighboring states, 50% women and 50% men and even split in the battle of the sexes today. and a further breakdown, vote by marital status and gender and 35% of those voting in alabama were married women. so that is a little bit more of one-third of the electorate and look at how they did. governor romney winning among married men in alabama, 40%, and 36% for rick santorum, and 1% for gingrich, and 6% for ron paul. that is a chunk. we have seen this gap in other places. rick santorum close to governor romney in alabama, and now checking t checking the same stat in mississippi.
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and now the split of 40% married and 40% of men married an 9% unmarried. speaker gingrich not as far behind in this question. and so many of the questions that we will ask,er r erin, bec when you have such a close rate, we will look at them. this is an interesting one this that governor romney in mississippi and alabama winning among the women. >> it is important statistic, because we all know that the women voters could be the swing vote to watch in the general election this year as well. "the new york times" and cbs poll is amazing. i'm wondering what is going owithin the poll in general, but it said that the president's approval rating dropped 12 percentage points, and part of it could be over the president's birth control mandate, and there is a new ad out by that is trying to capitalize on
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the controversy. >> a woman impregnated through rape should accept that horribly created gift, the gift of human life, and accept what god has given you, and make the best of a bad situation. >> judging from the comments, the gop must have a serious problem with women. >> and until the republicans get over their issues -- >> we, women, have got a serious problem with the republican party. >> the is responsible for the content of the advertisement. >> and that points it out, and paul begala, and mary matalin, and hilary rosen will be here with the countdown to the polls and it could be a long night as it has been, everybody. let me start with you, erick erickson, are you surprised to see mitt romney doing so well in the deep southern states among the women? >> well, not really, because on
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the campaign trail who has had the spouse out there more than any other? ann romney. she resonates well with men and women. and you know for all of the talk about the candidates beatingle up mitt romney, he has in the last few weeks focused on jobs much more than the other two candidates side tracked trying to make the case against romney and not done so well. >> well, mary, it is the most likable thing for him. >> well, the interesting thing to his credit, and in most respects what has happened for the gop primary for women is that these are bad choice, and they are voting on things other than issues that have historically been about women. you know, nothing has energized the women's base more than the republicans sort of hijacking the primary away from the economy which is what people care about to talk about
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contraception, and birth control and discrimination and health coverage and all of the things that women feel like we have moved past in year 2012. we don't want those discussions on the politics, and we don't want those opinions in our leaders and mitt romney is actually doubling down just as much on everything that rick santorum has conservatively said. it is a big issue against the republicans and it does not matter who they voted for today. >> mary, i'm curious for your view and what this means for the republican winner, and how concerned with the president be assuming that the poll is right, and it is a dramatic poll, but a 12 percentage drop of 47% approval rating for women for the president has to be concerning? >> well, two points. every single poll including that one show when you ask a woman, like they will vote like a majority of the people that this is a religious liberty issue, and should the government force
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religious institutions to violate the faith, and it is not contraception issue, and the second is that women are people, too. a prominent woman activist in mississippi just said as has been the case everywhere else, the economy is the number one issue, and 91% of the budgets are prepared by american women. it costs $100 dollars a week for gas, and $12 a week for contraception contraceptions. nobody wants the ban the contraceptions or get into the social issues right now including the voters. >> well, the catholic church would like to ban them. >> well, rick santorum said that gr gr griswald versus the united
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states, and if you repeal that, many states will do it tomorrow. >> oh, come on. >> hide and watch. >> that is ridiculous. >> that is so retro. >> and when you say 90% or whatever statistics you people derive from the liberal institutions that 90% of women take birth can controls, and no legislator would go home, because it would be ridiculous the suggest it. >> and keep in mind this is mississippi and alabama where half, half of the republican primary voters in mississippi believe that the president of the united states is a muslim, so they are either -- >> e o, here we go. let's stereotype something else. >> they are self-identifying. >> what do you have to have it in arabic? come on. >> you are working into the ppb polling which was designed by a democratic firm for democratic polling firms to elicit from people who don't like barack obama and generally attack it. >> and double it and say it is off by 50%, and say one quarter of all republicans in mississippi and alabama think that the president of the united states is a muslim.
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>> this is why they won't vote for a democrat, because they call them stupid -- >> well, they are prejudice. >> you hear that mississippi? >> well, the issue here is -- >> final word hilary sdwrchlt well shg -- >> well, the issue is not mississippi or alabama, but we have 14 battleground states, and women make up what they want to hear from the economy and that is not what they are hearing from the republican candidates and that is why the president is leading in the battleground states. >> you will lose that fight with the religious institutions. >> i don't think so. >> we have an interesting one, and mary, you are being a democrat and a southern here, and you are stuck on both sides of them. >> i love it. bring it on. >> and is romney really the only choice they have if they want a shot to defeat president obama? you'd be targeting stocks to trade. well, that's what trade architect's heat maps do.
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we are less than 15 minutes away from the polls closing in alabama and mississippi and it is going to be one heck of a night again. mitt romney predicts he will win one-third of the delegates tonight, and if he goes on the win the nomination, will he beat president obama? gloria borger and david gergen are here. what do you believe? >> can he beat the president? >> yes. >> theoretically. >> realistically? >> well, mitt romney has the best shot, and the polls are bearing it out for now the last two the three or four weeks and
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mitt romney has run consistently against the president than any other candidates? >> anybody get out tonight, gloria? >> well, not tonight. they all live for another day and they put out the rationales for why they live another day and even if newt gingrich were not to win one of the southern states, they put out a public rationale and they call them internal memos and they distribute it to the entire media pop oulation, so i do not think that anybody gets out tonight, but if mitt romney wins one of these states, i think that you have to say he is more than well on the way to getting the nomination, because this is the one big psychological hole he had, could he win a southern state. >> and could mitt seal the deal. >> well, if he wins one, then by definition santorum or gingrich has to lose two, and that person can go on, but the person in the press will be dead man walking. >> and as wolf gits blitzer
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poi -- as wolf blitzer pointed out, it is the math, and you have to pay the staff. it is dead man walking? >> well, the super pacs have been funding the campaigns which is why they have is gone so long as they have frankly, because there is no inscentive to get out, but you do have to pay the staff and have a credibility with the voters, and if you look at the exit polls, the republican voters want somebody who can beat barack obama. if you have not proven that you have the organization or the votes, and they want somebody who is electable, you suddenly become less credible to the voters. >> and the gover for t eernor o mississippi said it well endorsing mitt romney, one of the conservative states in the country, and if you cannot beat mitt romney in the most conservative states in the country, what argument do you have to be the conservative choice? >> that is thet bottom line and we are 11 or 12 minutes away from the polls closing.
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it is another big night, and again a nail-biter. we will take a break and cnn's breaking coverage with the polls closing and will there be a call starts right after this break. managing expenses seems to... get in the way. not anymore. ink, the small business card from chase introduces jot an on-the-go expense app made exclusively for ink customers. custom categorize your expenses anywhere. save time and get back to what you love. the latest innovation. only for ink customers. learn more at
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for a day free of pain. [ female announcer ] and try aleve for relief from tough headaches. >> announcer: this is the day. the day that we say to the world of identity thieves "enough." we're lifelock, and we believe you have the right to live free from the fear of identity theft. our pledge to you? as long as there are identity thieves, we'll be there. we're lifelock. and we offer the most comprehensive identity theft protection ever created. lifelock: relentlessly protecting your identity. call 1-800-lifelock or go to today. the presidential race has been won by governor reagan of california. >> george herbert walker bush. >> governor clinton is too close to call. >> barack obama, president-elect of the united states.
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>> is the cnn. >> right now, the republican presidential candidates are in a southern brawl. >> we're standing by for results that could rattle the gop race once again. >> tonight on new fight for the deep south with jabs at mitt romney's weak spot. >> i'm learning to say y'all and i like grits and strange things are happening to me. >> two rivals jump at another chance to try to trip up the front-runner. >> unlike one of my competitors, i have had grits before. >> and knock each other out. >> i'd like if everybody drops out. that's not the way it works. >> will all four candidates be standing after three new candidates in alabama, mississippi and hawaii? it's america's choice. mitt romney is the clear leader in the delegate race but he's still a long way from claiming the nomination. >> we're counting up the delegates for the convention and it looks good.
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we're counting down the days until november an that looks even better. >> rick santorum is giving mitt romney a run for his money after cutting into the super tuesday win. >> we won in the midwest and south and ready to win across this country. >> reporter: newt gingrich prove in in the south thinks this could be his night. >> if we win alabama and mississippi on tuesday, for about the ninth time the news media will suddenly be reporting a totally new race. >> republicans competing in two red states and on president obama's home turf. when will they finally be able to focus on their ultimate goal. >> i never think it's do or die for anything. everybody's still in there's. >> gop concerns are growing, as the race keeps going and the candidates charge into battle again.
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>> welcome to our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer at the cnn "election center." in just a few minutes, all polling places close in the mississippi and alabama primaries. new tests of the presidential candidates, right in the heart of the republican country. 84 delegates are at stake in those two states. a little more than four hours from now, caucuses get under way in hawaii. 17 delegates are at stake there. the u.s. territory of american samoa is also holding its caucuses. those begin at 11:00 p.m. eastern. that contest and the one in hawaii won't be decided until very early in the morning eastern time. nine delegates by the way, are at stake in american samoa. right now, cnn ballot cameras are strategically positioned in alabama and mississippi to bring you the results from those contests before anyone else.
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we have the most crews and in the most locations including our correspondents covering the campaigns. candy crowley, jim acosta, joe johns, they are all standing by. let's go over to candy. she's watching what's going on, as far as mitt romney the front-runner is concerned. candy. >> reporter: wolf, there is no event this evening for the mitt romney campaign. he will be watching in the privacy of a hotel room in new york city. don't take that to mean they don't think they will do well tonight. they are hoping to pick up at least one state and say no matter what happens, they'll be picking up delegates in all four of the contests tonight. wolf. . >> and rick santorum headquarters in lafayette, louisiana. what's going on? >> reporter: rick santorum is on his ideological home turf in mississippi and alabama, voters as culturally conservative as he is and santorum aides say they
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are doing well in alabama and see a southern split for tonight. >> and this night in birmingham, alabama, joe. >> reporter: wolf, newt gingrich really needs a win in alabama as he does in mississippi. his opponents are certainly making it very hard for him. this is a guy who is supposed to have the best political connections in the south of the candidates in the race. he's also supposed to have the best connection to the voters. we'll see. it may come down to who's the most electable conservative. wolf. >> stand by as well. of course, anderson cooper is watching all of this, with us every step of the way. >> let's look where the gop race stands right now as we count down to the top of the hour and end of voting in alabama and mississippi. mitt romney has won 16 contests, rick santorum has won eight, newt gingrich won two and ron paul has not won any caucuses or
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prirnl primarieies mitt romney has 459 newt gingrich, 118, run paul, 6. 1 1,144 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination. and the campaign and ads and how they influenced it. >> a lot has been negative and continues to be because of the role of super pacs. you have seen this funding season go on and on, it has been super pacs funding the lion's share of ads. mitt romney, big spender, $142,000 of his own campaign money, not that much more than newt gingrich but when you add in super pacs, mitt romney outspending his competitors using super pacs by 2.31. >> our cnn contributors are standing by. john. >> anderson, first, a quick look
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at the map. see the dark red, romney, purple is santorum. who can win the southern prices. speaker newt gingrich has south carolina and georgia and hoping to extend a southern sweep. if romney could win down here, it would change the dynamic of the race. let's take a quick look. as we have seen in every state, 3 economy is issue one in mississippi and the state of alabama. nearly half of the voters say the economy is issue number one. here's something that might surprise you for conservative southern states. 27% conservative, 42% very conservative. alabama, roughly the same. 31%, 31% and 38%. let's take one sneak peek at our exit poll. how did they vote? santorum led, gingrich second, romney third among very conservative voters in alabama. >> we'll be going over a lot of the numbers in


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